CLAIMS Ealing is struggling to process new Housing Benefit requests have been rejected by the council.

Figures released yesterday in response to a question by Tory MP Andrew Selous showed it took on average 45 days for a new housing benefit claim to be processed, the fifth slowest in the UK.

Councillor Julian Bell, the leader of the Labour group, said; “I would say to the council no more excuses, we need to get this sorted out.

“They have said they are using a new computer system and new reporting measures as excuses to why they have been slow in the past, but it's time to stop.

“As you can see from the example of St Albans, the best performing authority, if there is a real will to turn things round you can do it.”

However, Verity Adams, a council spokeswoman, said the figures used in answering the question were out of date.

She said: “These figures are now completely out of date. New claims currently take an average of 34 days to process, compared to up to 70 days in 06/07.

“This progress is thanks to an effective improvement programme we now have in place, which we expect will cut waiting times even further.”